Board of Elections needs your input

In the coming months the Orange County BOE will be setting the early voting plan for the 2014 election cycle.  Since there have been issues with the Rams' Head one-stop site, we are looking for alternatives for an early voting location that will serve Chapel Hill, and the campus community in particular.

Keeping in mind that certain factors -- parking, ADA compliance, internet access, the ability to secure the ballot box, etc. -- are mandated by statute, we would appreciate your input about sites that would best serve the students, faculty, staff and residents during the abbreviated 2014 early voting period.

While we all mourn the loss of Morehead Planetarium as a one-stop site, that facility has been repurposed by the University and is no longer available to us, so we need your help in finding somewhere that can be just as successful.

The State BOE has given us until March to establish our early voting plan, so we need your input ASAP. 

 

Thanks in advance!

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Total votes: 3

26 Comments

gercohen's picture

on-campus polling place

floor at Woolen Gym was a polling place from '70 to around '80 but parking issues are the same or worse than RamsHead.  Is Smith Center floor available? Plenty of room for set up. Not sure what ADA access is like. Lots of surface parking that could be dedicated. There are bus routes and it is walking distance for thousands. 10 day period might make scheduling a facility easier.

Travis Crayton's picture

Dean Dome far from ideal

Very few students walk past the Dean Dome on any given day. If the goal is to have voting accessible and easy for most students to do in just a few minutes, having a voting site any further south than Ram's Head simply won't suffice.

gercohen's picture

Dean Dome

I'm just throwing out an idea when I mention Dean Dome. Remember with 10 days rather than 17 an area needs to be able to handle a higher volume per day. If there is somewhere near central campus that can handle volume that's great. I do think that parking does not need to be the main concern. With a transit dependent population on campus, the fact that there is one site with limited parking should not be a negative if there are 3 or 4 other sites in south orange with lots of parking. There should not be a requirement that everyone be able to park easily at every site if it means that some with no cars can't get to any site at all.

Thanks for the suggestion!

Thanks for the suggestion!  We will look into the Dean Dome as a potential site-- although I do worry that it is somewhat remote for a majority of folks.  I don't disagree that the parking requirements for a campus site should be different given the pedestrian orientation of the community, but sadly we are constrained by statute in the minimum requirements for early voting locations.

gercohen's picture

plenty of parking at Rams

Rams has tons of parking, albeit in a deck. The statute requires "sites in the Plan as a whole provide adequate coverage of the county's
electorate" meaning you can look at the totality of access -- and not just focus on one site's limitations (as long as the limitations don't violate ADA). If Rams were the ONLY site in the Chapel Hill/Carrboro area this would be a big problem. Looking towards Fall 2016, with the requirements to shorhorn 17 days of hours into 10 days it is quite likely that there will have to be four sites in Chapel Hill/Carrboro rather than the current three anyway.

gercohen's picture

another challenge

another challenge is that under the new law (other than the BoE office) each site must have the same DAYS and the same number of hours each day.  eg some could be 11 to 7 and some could be 9 to 5, but if the campus site was closed on a Saturday for a home football game (as Rams was in '12) no site (other than BoE office) could be open that day.

ldhintz's picture

Campus polling place

Rams Head Dining was a great place for early voting. Hundreds of students go by it every hour. It is easy for faculty and other employees to walk to. The bus goes near it and it is easy to bike there. It has free parking in the deck for people who are voting. I campaigned there several days. A number of students said they were registered at their parents home or in Durham County where they lived. Others still thought they needed a NC drivers license with a Chapel Hill address in order to vote or that their parents would lose their tax deduction. (I explained this wasn't the case but it illustrates the impact of the Voter ID law discussion has had on the electorate) The reality is that for this election the vast majority of students opted not to vote. The location was not the reason. One negative is that you could not leave your campaign signs there. Also the front door didn't have any sign saying the voting site was upstairs. I can't think of a better place on campus.

Thanks for the feedback on

Thanks for the feedback on Rams Head.    There have been significant issues for our poll workers accommodating curbside voting at that site, and we have heard that lunch lines got mixed into voting lines, among other problems.  Because there have been concerns, I feel that it is important to do our due diligence to make sure that all alternatives have been explored and evaluated.  Just to clarify, at the end of the day, it may be that Rams Head is the best or only option for a campus area one-stop site.  

gercohen's picture

keep Rams if possible

I am not quite sure how lunch lines at Rams would get mixed with voting lines because they were on separate floors. On the other hand I learned as an undergrad that if you saw a line the first thing to to do is get in it then find out what the line is for. I understand the curbside issue and hope this can be resolved in a satisfactory way as Rams is certainly the most convenient site to accomodate those who DON'T have cars.

Travis Crayton's picture

CDA

Has the Center for Dramatic Art been previously considered as an early voting site? As it is already an Election Day voting site that many students would usually vote at if they didn't early vote, I could see some good coming from providing a bit of consistency from early voting to Election Day.

mghughes's picture

CDA is a HUGE issue

I don't recall if we discussed this last year, but it's a terrible election day site as it has limited ability to accommodate the existing voters for Country Club precinct due to parking. To have it overwhelmed as an early voting site would be an unmitigated disaster. I think you'll also run into the problem of students showing up on election day thinking they can vote there and being denied because provisional ballots outside your actual precinct will no longer be available. It's already an issue and it'll be made worse.

Travis Crayton's picture

Low turnout site

Yet the CDA is one of few buildings on campus with easy access to parking spaces nearby and has historically been a fairly low-turnout precinct on Election Day. Certainly it has problems as a site, but if we say that the CDA is so problematic is also must be changed, just like Ram's Head, then what sites are we left with on a pedestrian-oriented campus that yet still must meet statutory regulations?

It's unfortunate that, given the political climate, even if we were to ask our legislative delegation to attempt to get a statutory change, such a change would likely go nowhere. Given that a campus site is going to be utilized overwhelmingly by students and employees already on campus, and the availability of ADA-compliant sites within a mere minutes drive (Carrboro Town Hall & Seymour Center), it's truly a shame we can't have a stable, dedicated voting site on campus.

mghughes's picture

School of Government Was Original Site

Country Club used to vote at the School of Government. There just aren't that many sites that can be used in the area for precincts that haven't already been explored and/or vetted. Many of the precincts that are clustered in that area barely vote within the boundaries of their precinct to begin with. In that area you have CDA, General Administration, Glenwood Elementary, and the Friday Center used as voting locations. I think most of them are outside of the boundary they serve (I need to look at a map to verify that). Of course it's worse in Carrboro as the boundary of Lion's Club contains three voting sites and Town Hall actually isn't located within the Town Hall precinct.

mghughes's picture

You're Right

I often interchange the precinct name and polling locations, much to my own chagrin. You'd think after visiting all 44 precincts in the last two years I'd have a better memory.

At ECU they change every year

At ECU they basically change the on or near campus early voting site every year or two based on complaints in the time I've been paying attention.No one ever gets to vote as the same place throughout their 4 years in undergrad. And every new site turnouts out to have its own unique issues not realized until the site is utilized prompting it to be replaced.The pursuit of perfection not only leads to continued imperfection, but it adds in the negative of constant switches that prevent people from learning and getting in the practice of using a specific site. And it's worse than if they just stayed at a decent but imperfect site. A lot of early voting sites are stable, but not for students and it seems like a disservice to them.I'm not saying that's what is happening with UNC, I just don't want to see it go that route between Morehead, Rams Head, and that off site location near Time Out, and now maybe another new site and how many after that?

After reading thru all these comments

After reading thru all these comments, it appears that the majority of everyone's focus and concern is to find a location that "students" can walk to.  (A few of you have mentioned voters other than students).  Is there not bus service all over Chapel hill/Carrboro?  If "students" walk to the Dean Smith Center for a Game and then up to Franklin Street after the game, it seems that "if" that person (student or not) wants to vote, they can and will find a way to get to the voting location; even if it means setting their alarm clock 15-30 minutes earlier to go and vote before going to their class.

Too many hurdles

Eliminating same day registration that students as first time voters and voters that move a lot use, cutting early voting that young people use, and down the line requiring government issued IDs with the exception of government issued student IDs. I think enough road blocks are being put in front of the people who have the least experience and familiarity with voting.The justification is always, it's not that much harder. But it adds up. In practice, the harder you make it to vote, the less people that vote, even if in a perfect hypothetical world everyone would still vote no matter how much harder you make it. North Carolina went from one of the worst to one of the better states in terms of turnout because of structural changes. You say "they can and will find a way" but we know based on historical data that isn't the case.

gercohen's picture

siting issues

Danelle, if we have three or four sites in southern orange, seems to me that a good goal would be putting at least one of the sites close to where thousands of people are all day. somewhere on campus.